Helping nonprofits via personal currencies
Every week, millions of people donate personal time to local good causes. Personal currencies in Resilient Communities can emerge from this spirit of volunteering.
Launching personal currencies
Anyone with a desktop printer, document design skills, and generous spirit can launch a personal currency in a way that benefits nonprofit groups. He or she can start by creating "gift certificates" of time for services that local nonprofits may need.
A resident of a Resilient Community can launch his or her personal currency by printing, numbering, and signing certificates with offers to donate his or her time. These gift offers can offer immediate benefits for local nonprofit that face funding challenges.
How might this play out in a local case? Let's say you want to help a local nonprofit group improve food supplies in a Resilient Community. You design a custom personal currency – perhaps by downloading and modifying an online template – and print out a time and date-stamped certificate with a commitment to donate some hours for a specified service.
The gift coupon could commit you, for example, to provide help on irrigation system installation, web page creation, or membership recruitment. Your time gift offer also could contain any information that you want to share regarding contact information, flexibility on service scheduling, and web links to a profile of your skills and prior project experience.
On receiving your personal time gift offer, the local group may opt to benefit directly from your offered time. Or, if you want to add a policy on transfer of your time gift, the nonprofit group that receives your personal currency may pass it on to third parties of its choosing. (As issuer, you can specify on your currency that any third party desiring to redeem your personal time pledge must have delivered some recorded value for your original nonprofit group – confirmed, for example, via an uploaded photo or Youtube clip on a gift of supplies or other help to the local nonprofit's project.)
This kind of transferable redemption policy would enable the (original) recipient group potentially to use your time service offer to its maximum benefit.
Reputation gains for the time gift issuer
Creating personal currencies with service offers can benefit the giver as well as receiver. An issuer can gain references, reputation, and goodwill useful in generating demand for his or her marketable skills.
On receiving services from the issuer of a personal currency, recipients can post feedback about the experience on Yelp or a similar feedback site. (Links to a preferred feedback site would be on each personal currency note.) As references grew from satisfied recipients, the issuer's visibility and reputation in the marketplace would rise. This can help lift demand for any service ventures that a person may want to offer on a business-like, compensated basis. The reputation earned from services to nonprofits can open new revenue-earning opportunities in the local community, and in online freelance markets.
A basic policy set by the issuer of a printed gift certificate can deter photocopying/counterfeiting. The issuer can require each proposed transfer of a voucher to a new recipient to be registered on a web site (specified by the issuer) through a standard form. This web form can send an immediate email and text message to the issuer's cell phone regarding the proposed transfer to the new party, enabling the issuer to accept (or decline) the third party transfer.
The (approved) final registrant in a chain of transfers then would be able to redeem the issuer's voucher for the offered gift of service.
How cell phones may help
Issuing and transfering gift certificates for time-based services may also grow rapidly through smartphones. As discussed here, taking a photo on an Augmented Reality-enabled camera phone can trigger essentially immediate popups of related information about the person in focus.
This information can include links to web sites with standing offers of time-based services that a person offers to good causes, along with links to a trusted third party site to review summaries of prior work done (plus feedback ratings from recipients).
With this cell-phone delivered information, the parties might agree find ways for each other to help admired local or global good causes – or perhaps to shift instead into a classic market exchange of services for personal benefit.
If the parties were unable to agree easily on an “exchange rate” for two-way time donations, a smartphone app might offer a solution. It could give the parties an option to hold a real-time auction for a given number of pledged time donation vouchers hours on eBay or on a similar spot auction site.
This auction – if successful – can set the market value of the individual’s time vouchers in terms of dollars, silver, or other currencies that other party can specify.
Personal Currencies -> Community Currencies
Personal Communities can become a springboard for Community Currencies. As Guillaume Lebleu, an alternative currency blogger and developer, has noted, "Community currencies are merely convertibility agreements of personal currencies."
Emergence of community currencies also can occur when Personal Currency issuers join mutual guarantee networks with others whom they trust. Issuers can lift the value of their respective personal currencies by working out arrangements with friends, family, or trusted neighbors to step in to deliver pledged services in the event of accident or illness.
These guarantee networks can be indicated on the personal currency notes issued by each member, as well as on a linked web site describing the network's capabilities and its members in good standing.
The Openworld Team has created this page.